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break out that wall April 28, 2012

Posted by lumierre9 in life lessons.
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1 comment so far

after graduating, i started working in a Japanese company from the beginning of this month. we have a lot of trainings for new employees, and this first month we had some ‘basic’ training, about company’s philosophy, work manner, divisions in the company, etc. the last two days, we had English seminars, basically about business communications.

after the whole month i had to think, listen, speak, and write in Japanese only, which was very tiring, i felt quite excited that finally i can talk in English again freely. but apparently my expectation was too high. i can say that i still couldn’t talk freely.

from what i observed during those two days, although the instructor spoke very slowly (too slow for me), but many of the Japanese still couldn’t understand what he said. we also watched some videos where they speak faster, and it got worse. but i found that some of them didn’t even seem to give any effort to understand (probably they weren’t even really listening). during discussions, a few could converse well, some tried so hard to say some words, but some just kept silent.

one of the reasons i found about their problem in English (a friend also wrote something about this here), compared to Indonesia, is that everything is already available in Japanese. all text books in school or literatures from foreign publishers/authors are all available in Japanese translation. in Indonesia, mostly we use English text books in university because we don’t have the Indonesian versions. English tv programs mostly are dubbed into Japanese. we still have English tv programs without being dubbed (and when i was a kid we had the sesame street which i think helped me a lot in learning English at the first stage). they have their own web contents in Japanese for most things. we don’t have much web contents in Indonesia so most of the time we go to English ones. games are also available in Japanese, of course it’s because mostly they are created by Japanese. in Indonesia we didn’t have local games so we play the English one.

that makes a huge problem. Japanese people are in their comfort zone. maybe they think that if they can have everything in Japanese, why they should learn English. i observed in the seminar, the ones who can speak English well are those who have ever been living in an English-speaking environment, maybe living abroad, even only for several months. the leader in my group said that at first she also couldn’t speak English, but being abroad, she had to be able to speak in order to survive.

many Japanese asked me, why a lot of Indonesian can speak English. well, that’s the answer, because we were forced to get out from our comfort zone. we wanted something, and we couldn’t get it in our comfort zone, we have to get out to that “uncomfort zone” called English.

i admit it’s difficult to get out from our comfort zone. many times we don’t want to get out unless something forced us to. since i came to Japan also i felt that most of the times i was in my comfort zone of speaking English. in my lab i spoke only to international students in English and only took classes in English. that made my Japanese improved slowly. i felt that when i break out that wall of my comfort zone, especially during my job hunting time, where i needed to read-write-speak in Japanese, it just went up significantly. sometimes i kinda regret why didn’t i do it earlier, if i had a better Japanese skill maybe i could get into my first choice of company (but i’m still thankful for what i have now). and again this time, i have to do everything in Japanese, i’m already totally out of my comfort zone, sometimes i feel very tired, but even within just a month i feel that my Japanese is already much better compared to last month.

we can only go to the next level if we are willing to get out from our comfort zone. don’t wait until we are forced to get out, because at that time we may regret that we didn’t do it earlier. the longer we stay there, the more difficult it is to leave. find something that we want that lies “out” there and go for it!